Governor Quinn announces program to stabilize vacant, foreclosed homes in six south and west suburban communities
Governor Pat Quinn recently announced a major investment in stabilizing some of the communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. The Illinois Building Blocks Pilot Program would put $55 million towards rehabilitating and promoting the sales of vacant properties in Berwyn, Chicago Heights, Maywood, Park Forest, Riverdale, and South Holland.
Vacant, foreclosed homes are a destabilizing force in communities. Woodstock Institute's research has shown that vacant, foreclosed homes contribute to declines in neighboring property values and increases in violent crime. Costs can be substantial for municipal governments as well, particularly when it is unclear who is responsible for the maintenance of the home. In these six communities, foreclosures have contributed significantly to the inventory of vacant homes (see table below). Close to 100 percent of completed foreclosures in these areas likely become vacant, Woodstock data show.
The Illinois Building Blocks program will stabilize vacant homes and create demand for them by providing down payment and closing cost assistance to home buyers. The program will use $40 million from the state and $10 million from Cook County to rehab an estimated 500 homes in these six communities, while grants for $10,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance will be made available for up to 500 buyers who purchase vacant homes. Sustainable mortgage financing will be made available to qualified homeowners who may have trouble accessing credit in today’s tight market because of dings in their credit scores. Since a critical part of mitigating the destabilizing effects of vacancy is to keep struggling homeowners in their homes whenever possible, Illinois Building Blocks will also provide assistance to homeowners by targeting these six communities with outreach events, financial assistance for unemployed homeowners, housing counseling, legal aid, loan modifications, and more.